Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

If the “beach” continues to reveal itself in the Inlet on the south side of the Ocean City jetty, safety has to be a concern.

The Army Corps of Engineers was surprised to learn from this newspaper the sand had accumulated in the same spot and to the same degree as it had last November. Word was Mother Nature had corrected the problem last year and the sand had flowed back into the Inlet over time. However, at some point over the last week or so, the sand built back up against the jetty rocks and reports started coming in the beach had returned. On Wednesday, a local surfer even ventured into the Inlet to ride a small wave that was breaking on the beach. A photo of that feat from Nick Denny can be seen on our Facebook page.

If this beach is still around in a few weeks, Ocean City will have a major problem on its hands. The fact is visitors are going to walk out on that beach as I did late last year to grab some keepsake photographs. One of our photographers even snapped a photo of a couple reading under an umbrella on “south beach,” as some have begun calling it. Another problem is the beach will be too tempting for fishermen looking to get their lines out into the Inlet to grab a prized striper, for example. Indeed, it could cause problems.

While it’s incredibly special to see, particularly considering most locals can never recall it happening previously, here’s to hoping the Army Corps is right with its belief natural progresses will remove the sand in time as it did late last year. Otherwise, the Ocean City Beach Patrol, the Ocean City Police Department and the U.S. Coast Guard could have their hands full this summer.

It has been an interesting few months for the Ocean City Public Works Department, which took a hit in March when Deputy Director Dick Malone suddenly resigned his position.

Public Works is arguably the most active city department in the summer months. Most don’t realize all that it does because most of its responsibilities are not as high profile as other departments, but the Public Works crews are busy all day and night during the peak summer months, collecting garbage, cleaning the streets and beach and maintaining the transportation system, among other responsibilities.

That’s why Malone’s abrupt departure over the winter had worried some city officials. Prior to leaving, Malone was one of Public Works Director Hal Adkins’ most tenured leaders who carried a heavy load. Most recently, Malone, who at one time was the town’s recycling coordinator, had a notable role in the town’s decision to abandon its recycling program in 2010 in favor of outsourcing all its garbage to a waste-to-energy program in Pennsylvania. Malone was the point person on the move for the media and became the chief defender of the controversial decision at that time.

According to Adkins, Malone was clear with his decision to resign in March. Adkins said the move came as a surprise to him, but one he felt was best for the city and Malone in the long run.

“He stood at my counter and resigned, and my personal opinion is out of frustration for dealing with local government. I don’t think it had anything to do with the new council or the old council,” said Adkins. “I consider Dick a friend and still do, and I wished him the best. There were times when it seemed the job was getting to him, and I believe he and his health will be better off in the long term.”

After Malone’s departure, Adkins drafted an internal advertisement that resulted in four applicants. At the end of the process, John Van Fossen, who has been with the city since 1970 and worked under Malone, became Adkins’ other deputy under Chief Deputy of Public Works Jim Parsons.

“I am a true believer in succession planning and have been focused on it for years. It’s like depth on a baseball team, and I have a lot of depth in public works, and I do it on purpose. The Mayor and Council approved the promotion of John to that position,” Adkins said. “Things are moving forward now. Dick’s departure sent me into a bit of a tailspin from a workload standpoint, but I am coming out of it now and we are ready for the summer.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.